Emmons/Winthrop Glacier 2009

September 12

This will probably be the last post on the Emmons for the year, and as of now the route remains in great shape. The main route up the Emmons remains the same as it has all year for the most part. You go up the corridor, then climb left around some seracs before continuing right, winding around some large crevasses and from there going directly to the summit dome, or right to Liberty Saddle.

That being said there are many variations that "go" at the moment, so adventurous climbers can have a great time exploring parts of the glacier that might not normally be on the climbing route.

There will also not be any climbing rangers staffing Schurman on a regular basis for the rest of the season. The solar toilet can be used but climbers should be sure to secure the door and building as they found it with the rope and ratchet strap before they leave. This helps ensure that the building won't twist and blow apart over the winter. The blue bag barrels are also inside the toilet now, please leave them there.

Thanks to everyone who came to enjoy the mountain this season. Have a great winter!


As Labor Day approaches and temperatures cool off, climbing on the Emmons remains a fun and beautiful late season objective. The route is currently is very good shape for this time of year. There have been parties traversing to Liberty Saddle and then onto the summit, as well as climbing a very direct line through large snow ramps over the bergschrund. Both variations provide great climbing on everything from new snow to glacial ice and some great close up views of seracs and large crevasses.

Come in to the White River Ranger Station to register and get more beta. Climbing rangers will also be at Schurman to give the latest updates on the route. See you on the mountain.

August 21

Although late season conditions prevail there is still great climbing and beautiful scenery to enjoy on the Emmons. Mid-August storms deposited fresh snow above 10,000 ft. and with cooler yet still pleasant temperatures climbing conditions are excellent.

The approach to Schurman via the Inter Glacier is still the preferred approach for climbers but be prepared to use your climbing gear as there is water ice exposed on the lower part of the glacier. Some parties have found ice screws useful for running belays in this area. The slope is not that steep but parties less comfortable on ice should maybe consider screws. Also be aware of rockfall on this section.

The route from Schurman to the summit is still in good form with surface conditions ranging from glacial skeleton to fresh snow. Like the last post said be aware that the worn-in bootpack does not necesarily follow the current best path up. Check in with the ranger at Schurman for the latest details, and be prepared to use your own eyes and brain as you climb.

August 8th

Not much has changed on the route since the last post. More nice weather has brought more melting to the upper mountain, exposing a bit more glacier skeleton between Schurman and the Flats and causing a few detours coming into camp.

The route itself is a lot of fun right now with everything from textured glacial skeleton to steep snow along the way. Be prepared for a bit of minor route finding on the upper mountain as the existing bootpack does not "go" in several places, requiring a bit of a detour to get around.

Also, be wary of the glacial moats that form along the rocks on both the Emmons AND Winthrop glacier sides of Camp Schurman. While walking in the area just around camp is not notoriously dangerous, climbers should be cautious when moving around as the potential for a fall is there.

Elsewhere along the route, the Glacier Basin trail is in great shape. If camping at Glacier Basin, be especially careful to hang your food, as bears have been a minor issue lately in the area. Also, the Inter Glacier has transitioned to almost total water ice below 8000'. Be prepared to deal with this part of the route in whatever way makes your group comfortable.

July 31st

Warm temps and sunny weather have made for high summit rates on the Emmons. The route is still in fantastic shape. Snow bridges are soft in spots, but the route is direct and is unchanged since the last post. There are a few spots of raw glacier skeleton showing up between Emmons Flats and Schurman, as well as along the Corridor. This generally makes the crevasses easy to see and safer to navigate.

The Inter Glacier is slowly moving to later season form. While still very much passable and a great part of the climb, climbers should be aware of icy sections and cracks opening up. Rope up and remember that you're on an active glacier, and that means crevasses will be present.

The route from the top of the Inter Glacier to Camp Schurman follows a meandering line along the lower Emmons Glacier. This part of the climb is easy to navigate, but much like the Inter Glacier, shouldn't be taken too lightly as there are plenty of large crevasses to negotiate.

The route above Schurman has been following a consistent line for several weeks now but the mountain will be forcing a change soon. Climbers are making their way through Emmons Flats to the Corridor, then heading left from the top of the Corridor into a small basin to gain the upper slopes. From there, a long traverse of the upper mountain gains Liberty Saddle and after an end around one large crack, the final section to Columbia Crest is all that's left. As for the change, cracks and bridges along the current bootpack will force a route variation soon. Rangers noticed a potential path leading right from the top of the Corridor into an upper mountain 'meadow' of sorts; this is likely a fun variation right now, but could turn into the more common pathway to the top very soon.

But, regardless of what path you'd like to take to the top, come out and enjoy the great weather with us on the mountain. The Emmons-Winthrop is still in great form and a fun objective.

July 15th

Lately there have been many people having fun and successful climbs on the popular Emmons/Winthrop , with plenty of opportunities for more. The weather looks good and the route is in better than normal condition. I expect it to stay that way. It is just as quick as the current DC route and the route finding is as easy as well. The EW has a trench to follow much like the DC. The well traveled EW route has no bottlenecks or fixed lines unlike the DC. Come and check it out.

The route is still very direct for the most part, although climbers are now opting to traverse to Liberty Saddle and around the right side of the bergschrund, instead of taking the direct line to the summit.

The hike through Glacier Basin and up through the yellow hill to the Inter Glacier is in full bloom. It is beautiful with lots of glacier lily, paintbrush, lupine and many other flowers at their peak.

The Inter Glacier is also in great shape, although snow bridges are starting to melt and show the crevasses underneath, so be prepared to break out your ropes and harnesses for maximum safety. The skiing conditions are still holding up. The snow surface is smooth, but conditions are melting rapidly.

June 23rd

Come hang out in the sun! The Emmons route is still in excellent condition, with good consolidated snow and a very direct line to the summit making for excellent climbing. Many people have been having great trips in the past few weeks and the conditions are prime for more superb climbing.

The Inter Glacier is in excellent shape and the skiing is still good. The bootpack is well worn in and is now just as fast if not faster than skinning up the glacier. One crack is opening up at the top of the second pressure ridge and can be easily bypassed to either side. The route from Camp Curtis to Schurman via the Emmons is still straightforward, although now it takes a wider path around some crevasses that are opening up near Schurman.

From Schurman the route takes the normal path up the Corridor, then goes climber's left around some cracks before bearing right again and continuing on a very direct line to the summit. The best way to get over the bergschrund is now between the upper and middle 'schrunds on a large ramp. From there it is a simple walk to the top. The skiing is still very good on the upper mountain and the Inter Glacier.

June 5th

An ascent of the route on June 4th found great climbing conditions, obviously very similar to those described in the attached trip report from June 2nd. The Glacier Basin trail is nearly snow free until Sherwood Forest and continuously snow covered from there to Camp Schurman. Travel early in the day to avoid soft conditions or be prepared with snowshoes or skis.

Due to the warm weather, one crevasse has begun to open on the Inter glacier. Use caution when ascending it as the summer progresses. When nearing the top of the Inter, two options for reaching Camp Schurman are commonly used. The most common route is to travel directly to a prominent saddle between the Inter and Emmons glaciers, descent to the Emmons, and then up to Camp Schurman. It would be wise to rope up for this section of the trip as some crevasses negotiation is required between the saddle and Camp Schurman. The other, less commonly used option, travels directly over Steamboat Prow, the prominent rock structure behind Camp Schurman. This route descends a ridge line consisting of unconsolidated volcanic rock. This option requires tricky, somewhat exposed rock scrambling that can be especially difficult to navigate with a heavy pack.

The route itself is in fantastic shape. Travel from camp up to the "Corridor” is direct with few open crevasses. But tell-tale depressions in the snowpack suggest some cracks will become more visible soon. On this trip the bit of wind when leaving camp dissipated quickly as we gained elevation.

Above the corridor, the main boot pack winds a bit to climber’s right then back again before approaching the bergschrund high on the mountain. Several crevasses must be negotiated and any snow bridge should ALWAYS be evaluated before crossing, regardless of the boot pack. With warm weather on the upper mountain nearly every day, the route (and stability of snow bridges) is constantly changing.

High on the mountain, most climbers are taking a nearly direct line to the crater rim, with some electing to traverse climber’s right up to the saddle above the Winthrop Glacier. If taking a direct line above the bergschrund, a bit of icier terrain must be negotiated.

See you on the mountain!

- S. Hotaling

In addition, we received this trip report from Stacy Czebotar, thanks!

Hello Climbing Rangers - On June 2nd, 2009 I successfully climbed the Emmons route with my friends Michael Wyckoff, Chris Pugh and Kinnan Murray. The route from White River Campground was straightforward, with a significant amount of snow still on the trail. Make sure to stay to the right as you enter Glacier Basin, due to weakening snowbridges over the creek on the left. NPS had put in some small red flags between the time we ascended and our hike out, so it should be well marked.

The Inter Glacier was in great shape - no noticeable crevasse openings, and the descent onto the Emmons was very straightforward with two small crevasses to hop over before arriving at Camp Schurman. Somebody in another group did punch through a crevasse just before camp in the later afternoon with the snow was very soft, so use caution! We began our climb at 12:30 am, due to the fact that the day was scheduled to be very warm. The wind was significant at Camp Schurman, but by the time we reached the Corridor, there was almost no wind whatsoever. The route was incredibly straight forward and filled in. There is one punch-through crevasse several hundred feet out of camp, and then we crossed one small snowbridge after the Corridor, which was in great shape.

The bergschrund was accessible via a large snowbridge, and so we chose to ascend the Emmons directly, instead of traversing around to the Winthrop Saddle. The snow was hard and well consolidated, with the last several hundred feet to the crater rim being mostly solid ice, which required careful foot placement, but posed no problem to our group. We arrived at the summit and had the entire mountain to ourselves - it was spectacular. This was our third attempt on the mountain after being weathered off for the past two years, so victory was sweet! There was some wind on the summit, but not much.

After a quick break, we opted to head down the route via the Winthrop Saddle, since we were not sure how the steeper sections in the last 1500ft of the Emmons would be holding up under the intense heat. The descent via the Winthrop traverse was uneventful, and the slog down the rest of the Emmons was tiring as we were postholing most of the way down in heat and very little breeze. Camp was a welcome sight ... as most mountain climbers know, every summit climb is a round trip - we were ecstatic to have summited the mountain, and even happier to make it safely back to camp.

Thanks again for all that you do ... we are all employees of Washington State Parks (two Rangers and two Construction and Maintenance specalists), and we appreciate all of your hard work!

Sincerely, Stacy Czebotar

June 4, 2009

The Glacier Basin trail is melting quickly, but it is still more than 50 percent snow covered. The spring trail up the Inter Fork bypassing Glacier Basin is officially melted out with no good spot to cross without getting wet. The preferred trail makes a switchback and is well marked with NPS wands by our backcountry rangers.

The Inter Glacier is filled with snow all the way down to Glacier Basin, and parties have also been traveling the yellow hill. There are no crevasses opened up on the Inter yet, but depressions are forming where there will be. The snow conditions have been soft spring slush, with postholing conditions possible in the afternoon. Skiing is still great. The traverse to the Emmons from Camp Curtis is still mostly snow but is melting quickly.

Now for the Emmons: earlier this week parties were following the boot pack to Liberty Saddle, and that is still a viable option. The most direct way is straight up through the double schrund which is well filled in. The snow conditions are still relatively soft up high, but will likely change with the marine air push this weekend. Come up and enjoy the Mountain!

May 23rd 2009

Route is in very good shape. Very filled in and straightforward glacial travel. Climb early to avoid afternoon postholing. Also beware of Avy danger on steep slopes on the Inter Glacier approach, again early travel is better. The late morning skiing on the Inter is beautiful. More to follow....

No reports yet, but the route should be in great shape. Check out the road access and registration info. below.

White River Approach:

Currently the road is closed at the park boundary on 410. You can park in the snow-play parking lot and start your climb there; turn left on Crystal Blvd and the parking lot is just to your right. (Do NOT park in front of the gate on 410 itself - you can be towed). Self-registration is possible 24 hours a day at the White River Ranger Station.The road to White River Campground is scheduled to open 08:00 on 05/20/2009. On this date you should be able to park at the campground and start your approach there. Be sure to stop and self-register at the ranger station on your way by. Entrance facilities at White River are scheduled to start operating 05/22/2009. Register in person at the ranger station beginning on this date.